By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Finn Gomez doesn’t let his hearing impairment stop him from pursuing his dreams, and now he will have a chance to help others as a teen adviser for Phonak.
Phonak, a division of Swiss-based Sonova, specializes in hearing solutions, often using the latest in technology. Gomez — who uses technology to amplify a classroom teacher’s voice with a device which is connected through signal technology to his hearing aid, as well as devices that allow him to better hear other band members when he plays his trumpet — is excited by the new opportunity.
His mother, Jennifer Herbert, English language facilitator for Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency, is excited by her son’s role as a teen adviser, and has encouraged him to pursue activities without letting his audio challenges impede him, which puts him in a position to erase the stigmas associated with the hearing impaired community, as well as confront bullying in any form, whether overt or subtle, deliberate or unintended.
In October, he met in Indiana with other teen advisers, who also have hearing impairments, and was encouraged after meeting peers who face similar challenges. He also shared ideas with them about eliminating the stigmas attached to the hearing impaired community.
Gomez, who attends mainstream classes at Wyandotte Roosevelt High School, uses technology to help him adapt to a world designed for those without hearing impairment. In addition to the device his teachers wear that allows their voice to be amplified directly to his hearing aid, he is using and adjusting other devices that allow him to better hear other band members’ musical parts when they perform together and he plays his trumpet with the Marching Chiefs and other area bands.
Gomez said being a teen adviser with Phonak will help him with his future, whether it is choosing the right college or finding an opportunity in the hearing aid field.
“It is important because it gets me to meet people with different experiences that know people around the world,” he said. “Phonak, a Sonova group, is based in Switzerland, and is in the U.S. and Canada.”
Next August he will travel to Switzerland with the other teen advisers to visit the Phonak/Sonova home offices.
“The tools Phonak has given us so far are really cool,” Gomez said. “The people we have met have accepted us, and are all interested in sharing their stories. The equipment we tried out with them is phenomenal.”
Gomez said there are many opportunities with Phonak to see where the future of technology is headed.
Herbert said meeting with others parents at Phonak validated her feelings.
“Everybody goes through denial in the beginning,” she said. “It was nice to hear other parents, because there aren’t many hearing impaired kids.”
For more information, go to hearinglikeme.com/phonak-teen-advisors-i-have-never-met-someone-that-is-my-age-that-also-has-hearing-loss.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)